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Torah crown

  • Place of origin:

    Vienna, Austria (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1825 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    [crown] Gold, silver, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, amethysts, and turquoises
    [case] Moulded leather with gilded decoration

  • Credit Line:

    The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum London

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.68:1, 2-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, room 83, case 8A

  • Image in copyright

This magnificent jewelled crown is probably from the court of the Hassidic leader Rabbi Israel Ruzhin (1797-1850). Hassidic Judaism originated in eastern Europe in the 18th century. The small size of the crown suggests that it was made for a personal Torah scroll.

Central to Jewish observance is the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. The scroll on which the Torah is written is wound on rollers called 'Trees of Life' ('Atzei Hayyim'). It is customary to decorate the rollers with either a crown or a pair of rimmonim. The crown symbolises majesty and the law of Torah. The rimmonim evoke the bells worn on the high priest's robe as described in the Book of Exodus.

This ornate ritual object is an important part of Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert's collection. Arthur Gilbert's family, the Bernsteins, were successful Jewish immigrants, who had moved to London from Poland in the 1890s.

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world's great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.

Physical description

[crown] The base band is modelled as an open crown pierced and chased with scrolling foliage, interspersed with three beaded ovals applied with diamond Hebrew initials standing for the Mishnaic expression commonly used on Torah ornaments "(C)rown of (T)orah, (C)rown of (P)riesthood, (C)rown of (K)ingship" (Mishnah, Avot 4:17). The base band is also overlaid with trailing sprays of flowers set with table-cut rubies and emeralds, rose diamonds and cabochon turquoises. The mid-section is composed of six openwork arches chased with foliate sprays enclosed by filigree bosses, each rising from a flowerhead with amethyst centre and applied with alternating designs of flowers set with rose diamonds, cabochon turquoises and table-cut rubies; these arches are spaced by six eagles, each with a diamond-studded head and wings and a floral tail set with diamonds, rubies and an amethyst, suspending in its beak a bell with chased foliage canopy and beaded rim, the clapper set with a ruby. The upper section is also of crown form, rising from pairs of chased wings and composed of six leaf-chased panels overlaid with floral designs of diamonds, rubies and emeralds; these panels spaced by bell-flowers each hung with an oval ruby surrounded by six small ruby drops (some missing) and suspended from foliate sprays of rubies and diamonds. The top formed as a diamond-set basket filled with various gold flowers with turquoise, ruby and diamond centres, also mounted with three larger flowers en tremblant, one set with an old mine diamond weighing approximately 1.80 carats and two set with rose diamonds each of approximately 1 carat. With its original contoured red leather case tooled with gilt Empire foliate designs.
[case] Leather case to contain the Torah crown, embellished with gilding

Place of Origin

Vienna, Austria (made)

Date

ca.1825 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

[crown] Gold, silver, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, amethysts, and turquoises
[case] Moulded leather with gilded decoration

Dimensions

[crown] Height: 17.8 cm, Diameter: 12.7 cm

Object history note

Provenance: By tradition Rabbi Israel Freidman (1797-1850), Ruzhin, Imperial Russia (present Ukraine), and later Sadgora, Austro-Hungary (present Ukraine); thence by descent; Sotheby's, New York, 16 March 1999, lot 327.

Descriptive line

Gold and silver Torah crown, with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, amethysts, and turquoises, Vienna, ca. 1825.

Exhibition History

A World Apart Next Door: Glimpses into the Life of Hasidic Jews (The Israel Museum 19/06/2012-1/12/2012)
Sacred Silver and Stained Glass Gallery (28/09/2005-30/11/2006)

Production Note

Ex cat.

Materials

Silver; Gold; Leather; Diamond; Ruby; Turquoise; Emerald; Amethyst

Techniques

Chasing; Lapidary

Categories

Metalwork; Religion; Judaism

Collection code

MET

Qr_O158129
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